OK Jan Brewer, time to put up...

Since you’re a politician, I won’t bother with the “shut up” part…”

Jan Brewer
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I’ve been whining about Jan Brewer, well it seems like forever. My complaints are pretty simple.

  • She was SoS before being elevated to Governor upon Janet Nappy’s move to DC.
  • While she’s is a competent manager/administrator, she’s over her head in a job that requires leadership.
  • Her initial response to budget shortfalls was “raise taxes”.
  • Her current budget is mish-mash of tax increases (Prop100), one time fed $$ and small cuts.
  • The budget she got through the legislature last year, I projected would be riddled with problems because it didn’t address the structural problems in financing the state.

OK, here we go again. The AZ Republic has the beginning of the wailing that will reach the level of pain in no time about the budget problems we’ve got in the Grand Canyon State. Hmmm. Grand Canyon. That’s an apt analogy to our state’s fiscal condition.

Lawmakers must erase an $825 million deficit in this fiscal year’s budget, compressing a year’s worth of cuts into a few months.

Well, that would be Strike One

Federal stimulus money runs out at the end of the budget year on June 30, adding to a hole of about $1.4 billion.

Ummm, Strike Two

GOP Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican majority in the Legislature have ruled out tax increases, and other options for balancing the budget are nearly tapped out.

Need I say it? OK, I will. When a politician rules something out…

But there is some room for hope, but it will require someone to step up and provide some serious leadership. It won’t be Brewer. And let me be really clear right now. Jan Brewer got thrust onto the national stage last year with the advent of SB1070, a law she had nothing to do with drafting, had absolutely no say or impact in getting passed and left her constituents wondering if she’d sign it until the moment she actually did sign it. It’s obvious to me, crusty old opinionated fart that I am, that her political advisers managed to convince her that her only shot at winning the primary (there were three opponents and it was close in February, very close, and Brewer had big negatives because of her “performance” on the budget) was to sign SB1070. She did. And she read her lines well for the national media in the aftermath. But now cometh reality. The elephant in the room. The budget.

Brewer dug a deep hole for us last time around with the use of Prop100, a “temporary” sales tax increase – three years, runs out in 2013 – and the use of $1.4B in “stimulus” money. I’m sorry, but I’ve got to depart from the subject at hand once again. Arizona’s economy is a wreck. Not as bad as our neighbor to the west, but it’s a wreck. We get $1.4B in fresh printing press output from the Feds and does she put it to work helping businesses make real jobs? No. She gives it to the education department as a prop. Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels she ain’t.

Oh well, back on track. We’ve got a big problem and it’s actually bigger than the article lets on because they don’t bother to note that the Prop100 tax increase will go away in two years. Bottom line, we need structural reform in Arizona government. And here’s the interesting parts…

“What we are walking into is major structural-deficit reduction,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa. “This is no longer a $5 million solution here or a $10 million cut there. It’s a $1 billion decision.”
…Brewer and legislative leaders have indicated they will have to target education and health care – the two biggest pieces of the budget.
The Legislature also has 37 new lawmakers, and they will have to quickly learn the intricacies of the state budget.

So, bottom up, I hope to God that those new lawmakers don’t take lessons from our current leadership who were happy as clams last time around with no structural changes, increased taxes and federal play money.

Next, as far as education is concerned, the state university system needs quality time with an axe. Way too much money is spent on administration and we need serious increases in tuition. Hopefully, if students (parents?) end up paying significantly more for their education the product will improve. And a good start would be to eliminate every department/major that uses the words “Studies” or “Science” in their title. Those degrees only qualify budding activists to go to grad school so they can do research on various classes of victims at the expense of the US Department of Education. And then there is health care spending. It’s going to be interesting to see what gets done about that at the state level given the current mess at the national level. Our legislature will be operating in somewhat of a real vacuum when they deal with it, and make no mistake, deal with they must.

Finally, the Speaker of the AZ House is calling for structural reform. We’ll see. And then, there’s the standard pap (yeah, I’m a cynic) on taxes…

And because these leaders want to cut taxes to get Arizona’s economy rolling again…

Again, we’ll see. And let’s not forget “the children”. The Republic is starting the drum beat about those people who will be “hurt” by the drastic cuts necessary at the state level if we don’t woman-up and raise taxes on the rich (my interpretation of their wording)…

The school nurse is becoming an endangered species.

State parks have closed, or are limping along thanks to local donations.

And nearly 100 Arizonans lost medical transplant coverage.

And then there’s the standard one-off’s of individuals who are being devastated by the current level of inadequate cuts. I won’t bother putting them here, you can read the article. Have a barf bag handy. The medical transplant issue has already made headlines in the New York Times, so you just know the coverage will be national and it will be amazing. The one line item I hope is NOT touched is the purchase of one spine for Governor Brewer. The cynic in me thinks that will be the first to go however.

Oh well. You can bet we’ll be following this.